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University of Minnesota Extension

Minnesota Master Naturalist: Prairies and Potholes

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Ney Nature Center
28238 Nature Center Lane
Henderson, MN 56044


Alex Colling, 952-846-7929 or alex@neycenter.org

Join Ney Naturalists in this exploration of the prairies and potholes of Southern Minnesota. We will meet Tuesday nights, July 11 - Sept. 19, at the Ney Nature Center near Henderson, MN.

We will explore the geology, plant communities, wildlife, aquatic systems, and human history of the prairies and potholes on the Ney Property, with field trips to various other lands along the Minnesota River Valley. We will take a close look at what makes this biome so important for the biodiversity of Minnesota's flora and fauna, as well as restoration efforts on Ney's prairies. All participants will complete a small group capstone service project.

This course fulfills the requirement for becoming a Master Naturalist volunteer. A capstone project is expected of participants, as well as the commitment to volunteer for 40 hours during the year.


Potential and current Master Naturalist volunteers.


$295. Includes manuals and supplies.

If you would like to receive a scholarship do not register now. Instead, complete this scholarship form and wait to be contacted before enrolling.


Cancelation requests received more than two weeks before the start of class are refunded minus a $20 processing fee. Cancelation requests received less than two weeks before the start of class are refunded minus $50.

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, this course material is available in alternative formats upon request. Direct requests to Julie Larson, larso143@umn.edu, at least two weeks in advance of the course start date.

About the Prairies and Potholes course

The official name for the ecological province called the Prairies and Potholes by the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is the Prairie Parkland Province. This biome was historically composed mainly of tallgrass prairie. Today it is used for agricultural purposes. The glaciers deposited between 100 and 600 feet of drift over the entire region. The Prairies and Potholes biome covers just over 16 million acres on the western edge of the state.

The biome is a hot and dry place, where evapotranspiration is annually higher than precipitation. In the northern portions of the biome, glacial kettles have filled with water and form the "potholes" that dot the landscape. These bodies of water are important for migratory waterfowl, and waterfowl production. The Minnesota River now flows through the old channel carved by Glacial River Warren, an outlet for Glacial Lake Agassiz.

Participants must complete the full 40 hours of training to become a certified Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

Each participant must complete a group capstone project. Participants will choose a capstone that they can complete before finishing the course.

Learn more about Master Naturalist volunteer training

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